Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Sahrawi Union of Writers and Journalists launches English website

The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic has long failed to take advantage of the internet's potential for putting pressure on Morocco and gaining international allies. Its long-awaited website didn't even have an English side, and went down soon after it was launched. Sahrawis might have finally come around, though, with their change of heart represented in the launch of the English-language version of the Union of Sahrawi Journalists and Reporters (UPES).

The UPES is a pro-SADR group of writers covering the conflict and Sahrawi life. The website isn't finished yet (there's no poetry or studies), but that doesn't mean there isn't good content. Rapscallion-about-the-Maghreb Jacob Mundy has an article up displaying his usual erudition about the conflict, as well as a snazzy Sahrawi chic picture. SADR's ambassador to the UK, Sidi Omar, also has an article.

The UPES has been around for some time, but I'm only fluent in American and that's limited my ability to cover it. One man who is a fiend at languages is UPES's Secretary General Malainin Lakhal, the mastermind behind both UPES and the Sahara Press Service, SADR's house organ. Lakhal's dedication to his people is commendable. Most recently, it's led him to tour Australia to raise support for Western Sahara and enjoy the hospitality of the good people at the Australian Western Sahara Association.

I'm excited about the UPES's potential to expand online discourse about Western Sahara. I'm not sure about this, but I think the UPES accepts submissions. In that case, there will be a contest soon to help fill out the site.

One man who doesn't need to win any contests because he's already cool in my book is commenter extraordinaire Desertman, who gave me the idea for this post.


  1. Anonymous12:00 PM

    Hi Will

    This is good step but still in the beginning as You mentioned
    The UPES should think “ out of box” and open this website not only for Pro-Polisario but also for others ( saharawis too! ) who may have good ideas how to resolve the WS issue
    Specially the UPES is introduced as “independent” organization representing a part of Saharwi people.

    Hope they will notify your post


  2. I agree with you that UPES shouldn't just be another Polisario mouthpiece. The more voices on Western Sahara, the better.

  3. Laroussi5:47 AM

    Being pro-Polisario and a Polisario mouthpiece, is that really the same thing? ;-) I beg to differ.

    Being Saharawi, I wonder how UPES can be anything but pro-Polisario. This doesn't have to mean however that they only speak the words of the Polisario leadership.

    But you should understand that you do not join Polisario filling in an application form. All Saharawis in the camps are considered members of the liberation movement by simply living in the camps.

    People may critizise the leadership for not making the correct decisions on and off, but that does not mean that they are not pro-Polisario.

    It's their own organisation so what else could they be? Pro-Moroccan? ;-)

  4. Anonymous9:05 PM

    They can be Sahrawi, Moroccan or Mauritanian. Polisario is a puppet in the hand of Algeria. When Algeria says : move, it does. when Algeria says: stop, it does. Go to a library to read about Algeria control on Polisario.

  5. Anon,

    That statement is meaningless. I could just as easily say "Polisario are not puppets in the hands of Algeria. Go read some books." Posts like this get us nowhere.


  6. Anonymous3:52 PM

    I agree with Justin that the statement that "Polisario is a tool in the hand of Algeria" is meaningless if it isn't supported by proofs. So, instead of going through the thousand facts on the ground and in the literrature that shows that, I am going to use a testimony from former Polisario representative in Italy, Ghallaoui Sidati. On October, 15th, 2005, he testitified at the U.N about the role of the Algerian Embassy in managing the Polisario reprsentation in Italy. You can find the whole document at : http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2005/gaspd316.doc.htm

    There are a lot of such testimony from senior Polisario officials who resigned from the Front...But of course, they are treators to the Polisario and therefore their testimonies are not valid. Because only Polisario and its CURRENT members detain the truth and the others are lying.

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